PROVO — Just about every player on the roster proved efficient for the Cougars during Thursday's 82-67 win over Loyola Marymount, with JUCO transfer Jahshire Hardnett providing no exception, despite sustaining an apparent leg injury. At the 5:50 mark of the first half, the 6-foot Chipola College product had to be helped off the floor and didn't appear in the lineup again until the second half.
Despite the injury, Hardnett started off the scoring for the Cougars in the second half, on a lay-up driving hard to the basket. For the game, Hardnett finished with 3-5 shooting from the field for 11 points and four assists, over 32 minutes of play.
Once again, however, it was Hardnett's defense which received most of the praise from BYU coach Dave Rose after the game.
"He's a really valuable piece to this team, especially with players like (Loyola Marymount's), which are really quick," Rose said. "...He's really helped our team defensively and tonight he got off to a good start offensively."
After some struggles early in the year, Hardnett has upped his play during West Coast Conference play, playing particularly effective in team's first conference win over San Francisco back on January 4.
As for Hardnett's injury, Rose said it was more of a pain issue after knocking knees with an LMU player, and is hopeful his starting point guard will be available come Saturday's game versus San Diego.
AROUND THE WCC: The Cougars and Lions weren't the only two West Coast Conference teams in action on Thursday. All ten conference members saw action, with the marquee matchup coming with Saint Mary's visiting defending conference champion Gonzaga, and coming away with a come-from-behind 74-71 win to improve its record to 7-0 in WCC play.
A surprising result was in San Diego, where visiting Portland picked up its first conference win with a 55-49 win over the Toreros, who fell to 4-3 in WCC play with the loss. San Diego will look to rebound when taking on the Cougars on Saturday at the Marriott Center.
In other action Pacific took down Pepperdine 92-78, to keep the Waves winless in WCC play, while improving its mark to 5-2.
STOCKHOLM SYNDROME: Saint Mary's has seen great success plucking top basketball prospects from Australia, with Loyola Marymount perhaps trying to do the same with Sweden. The Lions roster shows two sophomores from the Northern European country, including 7-foot-3 starting center Mattias Markusson, who was limited to just one made basket and no rebounds in the first half of Thursday's loss to the Cougars, despite playing 10 minutes.
Markusson finished with just five points and a single rebound in 15 minutes played.
Markusson hails from Vasterled, a district within the Swedish capital of Stockholm.
Teammate Erik Johansson, a 6-6 swingman, is from Sodertalje, which is a suburb of Stockholm. Johansson entered Thursday's game late, then hit two free throws in his five minutes of play.